photo credits: English Wikipedia
Emmeline, The Orphan of the Castle is the first novel written by English writer Charlotte Turner Smith; it was published in 1788. A Cinderella story in which the heroine stands outside the traditional economic structures of English society and ends up wealthy and happy, the novel is a fantasy. At the same time, it criticises the traditional marriage arrangements of the 18th century, which allowed women little choice and prioritised the needs of the family. Smith's criticisms of marriage stemmed from her personal experience and several of the secondary characters are thinly veiled depictions of her family, a technique which both intrigued and repelled contemporary readers.
Emmeline comments on the 18th-century novel tradition, presenting reinterpretations of scenes from famous earlier works, such as Samuel Richardson's Clarissa (1747–48). Moreover, the novel extends and develops the tradition of Gothic fiction. In combination with this, Smith's style marks her as an early Romantic. Her characters learn about their identities from nature and her landscape descriptions are imbued with political messages about gender relations.
Smith had separated from her husband in 1787 and was forced to write to support herself and her children. She quickly began writing novels, which were profitable at the time. Emmeline was published a year later in 1788; the first edition sold out quickly. Smith's novel was so successful that her publisher paid her more than he had initially promised. The novel was printed in the United States, translated into French, and issued several times during the 19th century.
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genre: Gothic novel
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